Tag Archives: Lakeview District

A little history (2)

Design worth preserving

In an earlier post, we discussed the colorful history of the area around the current Regions Bank in the Lakeview District (3rd Avenue South and 32nd Street, above). At the time Barber Companies was regrading vacant land across the street into parking; they have since started construction on a new office building, a hopeful sign this urban neighborhood will continue to see investment and revitalization. The start of the new building is seen below, across 32nd Street from the bank.

Underway courtesy of Barber

This morning at the City’s Design Review Committee, Regions presented a request to demolish the existing drive-through canopy at the rear of their building, and replace it with a new one. The existing canopy is very visible, since it faces the bank parking lot which extends to the alley; in effect the rear facade is almost as important as the front given its high level of exposure. The Committee denied the request, and asked for Regions to return with a revised proposal. Why?

It's all about proportion

As seen above, the existing drive-through canopies (to the right) mimic the thin, light effect of other canopies on the building. You can observe this characteristic at the angled canopy to the right on the front facade, or at the back entrance to the left of the drive-through. That lightweight quality in projecting architectural elements is typical of this sort of “Miami Modern” architecture.

The proposal removed the existing staggered canopy system and replaced it with a singular, heavy-set canopy that’s identical to what one sees at a typical gas station. Instead of the perhaps 8-9 inch height of the current canopy, the new one was to be 36 inches high, ostensibly to hide the pneumatic tubes that are currently exposed. Committee member Mark Fugnitto eloquently defended the architectural merits of the building, and asked that Regions put some thought into designing a canopy that’s consistent with those merits.

Hard to win anyone over with this

The other issue with the presentation was the lack of basic presentation materials. Rather than a set of good, illustrative drawings and (preferably) a rendering, only a photo (similar to the above) was presented of a generic, gas-station-like canopy from some other location. The Regions building does not rise to the level of being iconic, but it still serves as a very good example of this period of commercial architectural history. The Committee was absolutely right to insist on a more professional, and thoughtful, effort from the bank.

[thanks to rocketdogphoto for the gas station canopy]

More for Lakeview

Coming to a college town near you

The Tin Roof Bar franchise is opening it’s latest branch in Birmingham’s Lakeview District, in the 2700 block of 7th Avenue South (location of former dive bar T.C.’s). The venue will have live music and a menu that claims to be a step above “bar food”. Originally from Atlanta, the chain markets to college students/recent grads and has locations in Nashville, TN (pictured above); Lexington, KY; Columbia, SC; and Knoxville, TN.

The storefront space in this historic district has been vacant for some time since T.C’s closed; the Design Review Committee gave its approval to facade improvements and signage this morning. With Slice opening soon around the corner, and Huey’s  planned right down the street, there will be fewer vacancies and more evening choices in this center city district. Cheers.